NWU News & Views

International Workers Day

In 1889, the Marxist International Socialist Congress met in Paris and established the Second International as a successor to the earlier International Workingmen's Association. They adopted a resolution for a "great international demonstration" in support of working-class demands for the eight-hour day. The 1 May date was chosen by the American Federation of Labor to commemorate a general strike in the United States, which had begun on 1 May 1886 and culminated in the Haymarket affair four days later. The demonstration subsequently became a yearly event.[5] The 1904 Sixth Conference of the Second International called on "all Social Democratic Party organisations and trade unions of all countries to demonstrate energetically on the First of May for the legal establishment of the eight-hour day, for the class demands of the proletariat, and for universal peace". More ...

The origin of May Day is indissolubly bound up with the struggle for the shorter workday – a demand of major political significance for the working class. This struggle is manifest almost from the beginning of the factory system in the United States. More ...

This year’s May Day anniversary will go down in history as a bloody anniversary. Because while millions of workers around the world organize themselves, demand against the anti-people’s policies of the capital, its governments and the EU, our colleagues in Palestine will be burying the dozens of bodies murdered every day in the genocide that is carried out by Israel. Workers in every corner of the globe will not remain silent in the crime being committed. They will turn every May Day activity into a demonstration of solidarity with the struggling Palestinian people, and of condemnation of the murderous state of Israel and its imperialist allies who in one way or another support the massacre. More

May Day 2024: Trade Unions for Democracy

Respect for workers’ rights, high union density and collective agreement coverage lead to more equitable wealth distribution and greater public trust in democratic institutions. Norway, for instance, is cited by the V-Dem Institute as a leading example of a deliberative and egalitarian democracy due to its high trade union density and collective agreement coverage.

ITUC General Secretary Luc Triangle said: “Trade unions are the world’s biggest social movement. We embody and practice democratic values daily, and it’s time we reaffirmed our commitment to defending and promoting these principles globally. Democracy is not just a political ideal but a lived reality that workers are uniquely positioned to defend and enhance.” More ...

What Are the Origins of May Day?

The happy idea of using a proletarian holiday celebration as a means to attain the eight-hour day was first born in Australia. The workers there decided in 1856 to organize a day of complete stoppage together with meetings and entertainment as a demonstration in favor of the eight-hour day. The day of this celebration was to be April 21. At first, the Australian workers intended this only for the year 1856. But this first celebration had such a strong effect on the proletarian masses of Australia, enlivening them and leading to new agitation, that it was decided to repeat the celebration every year. More ...

Union Wins Caribbean Airlines Appeal

Strictly speaking, it's not that the Union won but that CAL lost.

When BWIA pretended to close on 31st December 2006, the only things that were not transferred to Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) were the workers and Union recognition. In reality, it was a massive union-busting exercise.

Of the four Unions recognised in BWIA, only the Communications, Transport, and General Workers Union (CATTU) made an application to the Industrial Court for successorship. It took from 2007 to 2017 for the matter to finally conclude with a judgement in favour of CATTU.

Needless to say, CAL appealed the decision, but in a judgment on 22nd April 2024, the Court of Appeal basically confirmed the Industrial Court decision, which means that CATTU (now called the National Aviation Workers Union) is the only recognised union at CAL. The work now begins.

Thomas-Felix And The Class Struggle

So they finally get rid of the little black girl from Mayaro who was bold face enough to threaten the Chamber hotshots with contempt of Court; who took seriously her charge to ensure that in her Court the principles and practices of “good industrial relations” were observed and who resisted political pressure. More ...

International Women's Day in Port of Spain

Celebrations marking International Women's Day in our capital were notably muted. Not that the issues highlighted have been addressed. The opposite one might easily assume. A cursory look at any media outlet reports missing young women, attacks on the elderly, and domestic violence. Then there is the organised collective begging/hustling/panhandling/solicitation as the ranks of the unemployed swell, and women, as always, have to manage the situation for the families. Our prisons are filled with young men. More ...

Talk About Conflict of Interest

How many of us still wonder why the trade union leaderships in this country have lost all credibility among their members and the wider working class? More ...

Minimum Wages Increased to $20.50 an hour

The National Minimum Wage of Trinidad and Tobago has been increased to $20.50 per hour effective 1st January 2024. En español.

Winning for workers

This summarises recent matters settled by the Union bilaterally, at the Ministry of Labour or the Industrial Court. Where there is a Court judgment, we will link to it.  

Dachin Food Services (Trinidad) Limited

29.04,25 - After seven years of service, the worker was dismissed for not being vaccinated. The Industrial Court awarded $72,000.00.

Halliburton (Trinidad) Limited

21.03.24 - The worker's first twelve years of service were described as "casual" even though he worked full time. This meant that he was not put into the pension plan, which negatively affected his pension benefits on retirement. Although the matter had reached the Industrial Court, it was settled bilaterally for $450,000.00.

York Garments Limited

14.03.24 - The worker was retrenched in 2020, and all she wanted was her severance money. The Company refused to give her the statutory 45 days' notice and then wanted to pay her severance in tranches of $1,500 a month. It took four years, but the Industrial Court awarded the worker her statutory severance benefits, her 45 days notice and an additional $15,000 because of the Company's conduct. So, the worker is now due to get $66,728.60.

Khan's Gold Design Ltd

13.03.24 - The worker was sent home during COVID-19 and never called back to work despite writing on more than one occasion to clarify her status. The Union argued this was effectively a dismissal. The matter was settled in conciliation in the Industrial Court, and the worker will be paid $105,000.

A Shy Employer

13.03.24 - Some guilty employers insist on confidentiality clauses in settlements. This employer should have gone through proper procedures before dismissing this worker. In a Consent Order (that is, a voluntary agreement between the parties) in the Industrial Court, the employer conceded they had not followed good industrial relations practice and agreed to pay the worker $165,000

Lafast Motors Limited

12.03.24 - The worker was retrenched without consultation as required by the Retrenchment and Severance Benefits Act. In conciliation in the Industrial Court, it was agreed that the worker would be paid damages of $50,000.

Caribbean News


WFTU Solidarity with Palestine

WFTU Solidarity with the Heroic People of Palestine

Trade unions march for debt cancellation in Africa

28 March, 2024On 21 March over one thousand workers marched in the streets of Lusaka, Zambia, calling for sovereign debt cancellation and an end to illicit financial flows.

The march was part of the activities of the ITUC Africa’s 14th New Year School, which had over 200 participants from 31 countries. The demands in the petition, received by Brenda Tambatamba-Zambia’s minister of labour and social security, included calls upon African governments to implement debt management policies that are pro-worker, promote gender equality and are sustainable. The policies should also promote progressive domestic resource mobilization and gender responsive tax policies.

The participants included IndustriALL affiliates from several African countries and the IndustriALL Sub-Saharan Africa regional office and took place 19-22 March under the theme: advancing Africa’s transformation agenda – mobilizing for tangible trade union collective action.

The school composed of panels, plenary sessions, and commissions. Speakers were from the International Labour Organization’s Bureau for Workers Activities, academics, civil society organizations and trade union organizations.

The New Year School’s dialogue included strengthening inter-union cooperation and organizing, developing strategies against illicit financial flows, promoting social protection, optimizing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)  for African industrialization, local manufacturing, decent job creation, and skills development, campaigning for a Just Transition to renewable energy and green jobs, gender mainstreaming, and union leadership training on sovereign debts and debt cancellation. 

Other discussions were on Africa’s labour market landscape, organizing innovation and collaboration, and insecurity and coup d’etats in Africa as threats to human and workers’ rights and democratic governance.

At US$1.8 trillion, the sovereign debt constitutes close to 23 per cent of the continent’s combined Gross Domestic Product(GDP) and is unsustainable and disconnected from the African development priorities, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

ITUC Africa is part of the stop bleeding campaign to stop illicit financial flows – illicit capital flight, tax avoidance and evasion, trade misinvoicing, corruption, money laundering and other criminal activities. The campaign is being conducted in cooperation with civil society organizations.

According to UNCTAD, illicit financial flows are estimated to be over US$88 billion per annum and deprive African countries of much needed resources to end poverty and promote industrialization.

ITUC Africa and IndustriALL are in cooperation on the African Industrialization campaign and on union engagement with the AfCFTA.

Martha Molema, ITUC Africa president said:

“The burdensome weight of national debt, the deficiencies within the global financial architecture and the looming climate crisis are reasons why debt should be cancelled.” 

Rose Omamo, ITUC Africa deputy president and IndustriALL vice president said:  

“It is necessary for Africa’s debt to be cancelled to stop the bleeding of African economies. With its mineral resources, Africa should be the richest continent. However, with illicit financial flows, Africa is unable to use its mineral resources for development. This explains why trade unions are campaigning for debt cancellation and an end to illicit financial flows.”

A decision by the ILO’s Governing Body opens the way for new work by the ILO on the estimation and operationalisation of living wages and on engaging with living wage initiatives. Read More

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